January 19, 2021
Investors often look at volatility to adjust for the market and the underlying stock exposure in advance of stock earning announcements. However, firm-specific volatility (or the implied volatility that quantifies risks unique to the firm) can be a better indicator of how options market makers price earnings risk. Firm-specific volatility measures the uncertainty associated with stock specific news, while netting out broader market volatility.
In the case of Netflix, announcing earnings at the end of day today, the firm-specific vol is the lowest it has been into Jan 2021 earnings, compared to the last 3 earnings cycles.
This low in firm-specific volatility indicates smaller premiums and a cheaper cost to long vol trades into the news. It appears to signal that the options market anticipates less uncertainty and a smaller price movement going into Netflix earnings. The sentiment that there will likely not be much of a move, or surprise, is likely partly due to options investors deriving their own expectations from overall analyst feedback on uncertainty being low.